Box Watch: Kevin McCloud waxes lyrical over an eco bungalow in Ipswich, while Kirstie Allsopp gets crafty in Devon

Top of this week's TV homes show highlights include a visit to Jonathan Belsey's fabulous Radian House in Grand Designs, and Kirstie doing interior design the old-fashioned way in Kirstie's Homemade Home

Jonathan Belsey is no slouch. Alongside the day job, he’s decided to design and build a ‘high-performance eco bungalow‘ in Suffolk (Grand Designs, Tuesday 6 August, 7.55pm, More4).

Oh yes, and bring two families together to make one happy household. Piece of cake – and being a doctor and health economist, Jonathan probably knows all about cake.

This sort of chap, it hardly needs saying, is right up Kevin McCloud’s beautifully designed street. Even his reservations about building materials (Kevin always has reservations) do little to dampen his glee at the scale of this project.

Kevin is worried that, once the house is finished, the concrete blockwork will look like, well, concrete blockwork. ‘I just don’t think I could live in a house that feels like an open prison,’ says Kevin, ‘or a 1960s Catholic monastery… in Scotland.’

But these are not just any old concrete blocks. By George, no. Jonathan takes a block, a blow torch and a knob of butter. Stay with it. Yes – the block retains so much heat it burns the butter. Jonathan probably knows all about butter. You get the idea – when your walls can burn butter, you don’t need central heating.

Ah we love it. All the usual Grand Designs stuff follows:
budgets through the roof, contractors and architects disappearing,
ructions at the Planning Department and a giant hiccup with a giant-sized wind
turbine.

‘It’s big isn’t it?’ says Jonathan’s partner
Lindsay as the monster is winched gingerly into position. ‘Very Very
Big.’

As every Grand Designs fan knows, Kevin’s final words-to-camera always put paid to any previous reservations about the build. ‘The very best kind of self-build project is one that laughs in the face of failure and pours scorn on the safe and the prudent…’ Well, er…

‘It’s a brave experiment by two pioneers who dared to risk everything to venture into unchartered territory… Long live their kind of self-builder.’ Phew. Thank goodness for that.

Kirstie Allsopp isn’t one for unchartered territory. We love Kirstie but when it comes to territory she prefers hers of the well-chartered, how-they-used-to-do-it-in-the-olden-days kind.

Currently encouraging us all to hunt down freebies instead of buying new in Kirstie’s Fill Your House For Free, 2009’s Kirstie’s Homemade Home (Thursday 8 August, 6pm, Home) is where it all began.

Even back then Kirstie was on a misson. Then it was to turn a dilapidated country cottage called Meadowgate, near Welcombe, yes really, in Devon into the ultimate homemade home.

Of course what Kirstie calls a ‘dilapidated country cottage’ is what the rest of us would call a huge great six-bedroom country pile – that, erm… hold on a minute… belongs to Kirstie.

In previous episodes Kirstie’s been hand-making like billio to furnish and decorate the kitchen, bathroom and living room, so now it’s the turn of the bedrooms. How many?

Of course by the end of the stitching, painting, skip diving (isn’t it amazing what one can fit in one’s Land Rover?), antiques shops and car-boot sales everything looks amazing. Everything always looks amazing in Kirstie Land.

And, hold on, what’s this? We can all rent Meadowgate for our holidays! And, even better, there’s a week still free in August! Yes really! For £3,333! If we all try really hard not to buy anything new – ever again – we could just about afford that.

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